To what extent is the consumer behaviour of Millennials different to that of Generation X in the area of entertainment? By Pawel Blaszczyk

Targeting the right consumer groups is a very important task undertaken by the marketers who are introducing a new product or service to the market. Consumers can be divided in to a vast number of specific groups, so it is vital to know what the specific consumer behaviour of the target group is to ensure that the product or service reaches them and enters their evoke sets. However different cohorts or generations will have to be targeted differently, as their decision-making processes will vary due to individual differences as well as environmental influences filed, to ensure forth mentioned entrance to evoke sets. This leads to a question, what are the similarities and differences between generations, especially between Generation X and Millennials?

(Schiffmann and Kanuk, 2010)

There are many different segmentation methods that are being used by the marketers around the world; age, social status, income, education and more (Schiffmann and Kanuk, 2010). Market segmentation is necessary to identify the cohorts or generations which are based on the age segmentation, concentrating on the age of the consumer. To find out what the differences and similarities are between generations it is important to establish when each of the generations began and when it ended (Table 1). Furthermore, each of the cohorts have specific consumer behaviours dictating what product or service they are or are not going to interact with.

Schiffmann and Kanuk (2010), Blackwell et al (2006), Evans, Jamal, Foxall (2009) and Pate and Adams (2016) explain that Generation Y is the most connected generation, with nearly every millennial having access to a computer or smartphone from which they can access and stay in touch with everything and everyone they need. Further when talking about Generation X; Schiffmann and Kanuk (2010), Blackwell et al (2006), Evans, Jamal, Foxall (2009) suggest that even though Generation Y is the technology generation, it is the Generation X that are ones who use the internet the most. They are also a generation that wants to take the time when shopping to make sure they are getting the best deal (Schiffmann and Kanuk, 2010).

Taken from Evans, Jamal and Foxall (2009)

Many marketers are using age segmentation, to determine their consumer group. However, age alone as a segment is not necessarily an accurate measurement method for marketers to target potential consumers. The age segmentation should not be limited only to the actual age of the consumer but as Evans, Jamal and Foxall (2009) indicates also the social, cognitive, subjective and personal age (Table 2). Some academia (Stephens, 1991; Evans, Jamal, Foxall, 2009) indicate that certain consumers group, the elderly consumers in particular, may perceive themselves younger than they actually are, lowering their cognitive age and therefore enjoy products or services designed and aimed at a younger consumer.

Taken from Evans, Jamal and Foxall (2009)

People always want to be entertained, whether it is by the music coming out of the radio, the latest TV series everyone is talking about, the new bestseller by Dan Brown or the newest blockbuster by James Cameron in a local movie theatre. That presents us with four main entertainment pillars: music, television, books and cinema.

Television is by far the most popular out of the four mentioned categories. Despite the decrease in time consumers spend in front of a television, people still invest in new and improved units’ functions that include 3D displays or SMART connectivity. TV’s with high definition displace are now a norm in a household, however according to a Mintel report (2016) on televisions, forty percent of owners in the UK own a SMART TV, due to its versatility in the form of access to the internet and other useful services through them. However, this form of entertainment has some drawbacks, such as lack of choice when it comes to selection of what is on. Although this can be a problem, many TV providers are improving their TV packages, with some offering access to services such as catch up or movie streaming service included in the overall price package.

Online streaming services, as a standalone market in the UK are currently valued at over three billion pounds and it is estimated to nearly double its value by 2020 according to recent report by MarketLine (2016). Movies and TV show screening services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and NowTV, are accountable for over fifty percent of the total value of the market with music services such as Spotify and Deezer holding over a quarter of the market value (MarketLine, 2016). This however does also have drawbacks as most of those services require a continuous access to the internet.

Taken from Chiffman and Kanuk (2010)

McDonald (2015), DeVaney (2015) Blackwell et al (2006), Chiffman and Kanuk (2010) and Solomon et al (2010) indicate in their studies a clear difference in patterns and preferences of the Generation Y/Millennials when it comes to consumption due to the information revolution and technological advances that followed, than any other generation before them. However all of the generations mentioned beforehand, including the two in question, Millennials and Gen X, are heavily dependant on the trial and error approach, also known as instrumental conditioning, but for two different reasons.

Millennials, with wide access to computers, tablets and smart phones are a generation that expect all the products and services to be instantaneous (Schiffmann and Kanuk, 2010). With current technological advances enabling customers to get what they want, when they want it, wherever they want. It allows many to instantly access what they need and desire. A recent Mintel report (2016) shows that when it comes to TV fifty percent of young millennials, those born between 1992 and 1994, are more likely to be using streaming services such as Netflix, to access movies or TV shows rather than pay for a TV subscription bundle.

Instant access is a must for most millennials and the decision-making process of which of the services to purchase is made by many, as Gen Y consumers value the opinion of others, both close family and friends as well as the strangers and their opinions and reviews they encounter on their mobile phones whilst browsing for the right service or product. Schiffmann and Kanuk (2015) further point out that to reach generation Y, marketers need to go after and advertise all around social media.

On the other hand, Generation X are more likely to browse around for the best ‘fit’ for them. This means they are more likely to search around the market to find a service that fits around their needs and expectations. Generation X has more disposable income than the Millennials (Blackwell et al, 2006) but that does not mean they are spending it unwisely. With time and money available to them, they can afford to browse around the market for TV subscription bundles that provide exactly what they want for the exact price they are willing to pay. Schiffmann and Kanuk (2015) and Evans, Jamal an Foxall (2009) additionally indicate that the Generation X does not mind advertising but they do not appreciate being spoken down to.

When the process of choosing the right TV service is applied to the instrumental conditioning model mentioned above, it maps out the journey that each generation takes to achieve the reward, in this instance, the ideal TV service. This process highlights that there are similarities between the two generations, as well as many differences. Both generations indicate different wants and desires which then has an affect on their decision making process. Generation Y consumers are the leaders in the technological advances as they have been born in to it. They are impatient and need instant access to the products of their needs, they also value opinions of others who consumed the product in question. They form their evoke sets based on the hype behind their products as well as reviews available online and the opinions of friends. Generation X consumers are more patient, they do not rush around and they spend their disposable income sensibly. They dislike they hype behind the product but not the advertisement itself (Evans, Jamal & Foxall, 2009). Trial and error approach is viable with any major purchase indicating they know exactly what they want and that is how they form their evoke sets.


Pate S., Adams, M (2013) "The Influence of Social Networking Sites on Buying Behaviours of Millennials," Atlantic Marketing Journal, 2(1), pp 7. Available at:

Generation gaps. 2000. Global Cosmetic Industry, 166(6), pp. 36-44.

Schiffmann, L., Kanuk, L (2015) Consumer Behaviour, 11th Ed, Upper Saddle River, Pearson Education

Schiffmann, L., Kanuk, L (2010) Consumer Behaviour, 10th Ed, Upper Saddle River, Pearson Education

McDonald, N (2015), Are Millennials Really the ‘’Go-Nowhere’’ Generation?, Journal of the American Planning Association, 81(2), pp.90-104

DeVaney, S (2015), Understanding The Millennial Generation, Journal of Financial Service Proffessionals, 69(6), pp.11-15

Blackwell, R., Miniard, P., Engel, J. (2006), Consumer Behaviour, 10th Ed, Mason, Thomson Higher Education

Evans, M., Jamal, A., Foxall, G. (2009) Consumer Behaviour, 2nd Ed, Chichester, Wiley

Mintel (2016) Televisions-UK, available from:

Mintel (2016) Bundled Communications Services – UK, available from:

MarketLine (2016) Digital Media in United Kingdom, available from:

Solomon, M., Bamossy, G., Askegaard, S., Hogg, M (2010), Consumer Behaviour: A European Perspective, 4th Ed, Harlow, Pearson Education


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